- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 16, 2003

It is a cautionary tale during wartime: Tolerance for cheeky celebrities is getting low indeed.
Just ask the Dixie Chicks, who quickly discovered their timing was off and that country music fans want to keep the country in their music.
The lead singer of the popular girl group ruffled fans' feathers last Monday when she stopped wailing about menfolk in song long enough to deliver political commentary on President Bush.
"Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas," Natalie Maines told a London audience which roared its approval.
Yesterday, Miss Maines issued a public apology to Mr. Bush for being "disrespectful." And no wonder. When news of her criticism reached the United States, country music fans took down their shootin' irons and went to war.
Some immediately called for a boycott of the Dixie Chicks, who won three Grammys last month some 13 years after they started out playing bluegrass on the streets of Dallas. A few fans suggested the group change its name to "Terrorist Chicks."
"This remark has really struck a nerve," said Jon Anthony, music director and afternoon personality for Washington-based country radio station WMZQ-FM.
"Now, Natalie Maines has a right to speak her mind," he said Friday, "but a lot of folks think she was disrespectful because she made that comment on foreign soil. We're hearing from people who want to boycott the Dixie Chicks, their sponsors, and even protest their concerts."
Stations in Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., and Nashville, Tenn., reported getting hundreds of phone calls.
"Dump that anti-America group. Obviously, this group intends to give aid and comfort to a known killer of the innocent," wrote one visitor at an online message board sponsored by ABC affiliate KMBC in Kansas City.
"When do 'celebs' finally realize they have an obligation to the fans that pay them millions? … Let them go give a concert in Baghdad," he concluded.
Some observers supported the Chicks' right to free speech.
Nevertheless, all three country stations in Kansas City stopped playing their songs. One Missouri station set out a trash can Friday morning for listeners who felt compelled to toss the group's CDs; another logged 700 protest calls on Thursday alone. In Bossier City, La., KRMD organized a"Dixie Chicks Destruction," running over CDs with a tractor.
The trio first issued a clarification of Miss Maines' remarks Friday.
"We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position," the group stated. "The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."
The statement continued with a personal message from Miss Maines: "The president is ignoring the opinions of many in the United States and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view."
Miss Maines sounded chastened in her hastily written apology yesterday. "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful," the singer said. "I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect."

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